But perhaps the greatest gift I received was having my eyes opened to the hurting people around me on what, for many, is a very difficult day.
As that day approached, I anticipated the mixture of joy and pain the day would bring. I began to think of people around me—people I knew who had lost their mothers that year and were facing the first Mother's Day without them, those who had lost children and felt the void especially on that day, those I had come in contact with who, like me, had children who would not live until the next Mother's Day, even those who have never been able to conceive or carry a child successfully.
So I made a list and went to the store to buy Mother's Day cards. Now with all the Mother's Day cards on the rack, it is not easy to find a big selection of cards for men who've lost their mothers or mothers who've lost children, so I had to improvise. But I sent out a big stack of cards that year and every year since.
Some people I didn't send cards to. Early Mother's Day morning, I called a woman in my church who had buried her mother who died of breast cancer the month before. I didn't really know her that well and felt a little awkward calling so early on Sunday, but because I reached out to her that difficult day, we became friends for life. Then at church that morning, I looked over and saw a woman with four small children whose husband had recently left her. I walked over and wished her happy Mother's Day, telling her that I thought she was an incredible mother to her children. It seemed to matter.
There's something good that happens to me when I'm able to get my eyes off of my own pain and minister out of it to other people who are hurting. It brings a healing to my heart that could not be found any other way.
I've already begun making my list for this year—the woman in our church whose son took his own life, the husband who is doing his best to parent four children and usher them through the grief of losing their mom in an accident, the woman who is saying a slow good-bye to her mother who has Alzheimers, my friend who miscarried several months ago. And somehow, in the midst of comforting others, through the power of the Holy Spirit I believe I'll be comforted myself.
(Nancy Guthrie is the author of "Holding On to Hope: A Pathway Through Suffering to the Heart of God;" and "The One Year Book of Hope," a daily devotional for those hurting or grieving. Visit her website at www.nancyguthrie.com)